Bells on Danforth Recap 2016

Story and Photos by Robert Zaichkowski

Bells on Danforth painting

The fifth annual Bells on Danforth ride took place on Saturday, June 25 and started at the Prince Edward Viaduct Parkette across from Castle Frank TTC station. Approximately 500 cyclists gathered at the parkette, where Cycle Toronto volunteers sold memberships and some kickoff speeches were given.

The ride was enjoyed with enthusiasm by all participants this year

Peter Taburns – the provincial NDP MPP for Toronto-Danforth – kept things brief by thanking everyone for their advocacy and wished them a good ride. Julie Dabrusin – the federal Liberal MP of that riding – announced there were plans to develop a federal bike strategy and an all-party cycling caucus; similar to what was done at Queen’s Park. The east end’s cycling champion, Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, expressed enthusiasm for bike lanes on Bloor and Woodbine coming this year, followed by those on Danforth (a.k.a. the Danny) to much applause. Cycle Toronto’s Jared Kolb thanked Councillors Fragendakis, Fletcher, Davis, and McMahon (Fletcher wasn’t in attendance) for reinstating Danforth Avenue in the bike plan, while Jacquelyn Hayward Gulati thanked advocates for their input for the bike plan, which will double the city’s cycling infrastructure over the next decade.

Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon participated in the ride this year!

It was time to grab the bikes, cross the Viaduct, and enjoy the hot sunny morning on the Danny! The Bells on Danforth banner was in front and a police escort was provided. While the Broadview to Main section had an Annex-like vibe with two to four storey buildings and small local businesses (over 70 of which are Danforth Loves Bikes supporters), the streetscape changed as the ride entered Scarborough. Big box retail, strip malls, and shops spaced further apart provided a more suburban feel.

After a 45 to 60 minute leisurely ride, Bells on Danforth arrived at Danforth Road where the Crossroads of the Danforth BIA welcomed riders to their neighbourhood. A children’s activity area was provided, as well as a water refill station, a Cycle Toronto tent, and a table for Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre. Bells on Danforth stickers – funded by the Toronto East Bicycle Festival – were distributed and some chairs were placed as part of the #SitTO initiative. A few more speeches also occurred.

Mark Macaraig of Scarborough Cycles was in attendance on the day as well

Ward 31 Councillor Janet Davis, who rode the entire length of Bells on Danforth, asked riders “Wasn’t that a safe ride on the Danforth?” and that it should be safe every day of the year. Marvin Macaraig of Scarborough Cycles discussed that initiative – including the launch of two bike hubs with do it yourself repair space and the BikeHost program – and how there was a divergence between Scarborough and Downtown regarding cycling. To close things off, a student at Danforth Tech – Martin Schmidt – talked about the questionable safety of cyclists in Scarborough, how distant schools are, and how advocates must plant the idea roads are for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.

Cycle Toronto had a booth at Danforth Road set up to answer any and all questions for visitors. 

Before returning home, some volunteers distributed coupons for Swiss Chalet, Dairy Queen, and Regino’s Pizza. Given how hot it was that day, you could imagine DQ was on many riders’ minds!

Ride safe!

For more photographs of the day check out Robert's flickr album.

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